How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking Me?- Dogs are extremely loving animals that often act clingy towards their owners. Your dog may show its affection towards you by licking you.
While it is endearing to see its love for you, you may not enjoy being slobbered on all the time. If you find the activity overwhelming, you may wonder, how do I get my dog to stop licking me?
Licking is the dog equivalent of kissing and is lovable to be subjected to occasionally. However, you may find it annoying if done excessively. Excessive licking can be due to underlying medical issues that your vet can diagnose.
But by practising patience and retraining your dog to understand that it is not appreciated, you can get your dog to refrain from licking you.
Why Do Dogs Lick?
Licking is an instinctive behaviour for any dog. Since they cannot communicate their feelings, they usually use the same activity to express various feelings in different circumstances.
You may notice your dog licking its possessions to give them a sense of familiarity and make them recognizable.
Dogs tend to keep themselves clean from primitive ages by licking themselves. While it may not seem to be the most sanitary practice, as the dirt, bacteria and any parasites that cling onto its skin are now ingested by your dog, it does serve as an efficient cleaning mechanism for a dog that does not have owners to care for it.
A newborn puppy is petted by its mothers, similar to how a human mother looks after its offspring. Since using paws can be harmful to the puppy due to the nails, mothers tend to use licking as a way to comfort and groom them and also to keep them clean.
This behaviour continues even into adulthood, and dogs continue to lick themselves to provide themselves with comfort.
To Grab Attention
Licking is the easiest way for a dog to grab its owner’s attention using the least energy possible. It also induces an immediate response, making it the most used technique to draw attention apart from barking.
To Make Friends
As dogs are territorial animals, they need reassurance to trust another dog in their marked territory. Licking another dog is a way to reassure it of its intentions. It helps in bonding with fellow animals and humans.
To Provide Comfort
Dogs explore the world through their senses. Like humans use touch to soothe others, dogs use licking as their natural grooming behaviour.
While we humans may not understand the emotions displayed by dogs, dogs can certainly sense the change in the mood and respond accordingly. In situations where its owner appears to be dispirited, it is likely to see the dog nuzzle into and lick its owner.
Sense of Taste
Dogs have a well-developed taste profile and only dislike spicy, bitter and sour foods. You may notice your dog licking you after undergoing severe physical activity, and this may be due to the production of sweat that tastes salty.
Medical Conditions Causing Dog Licking
Licking may not always be a thoughtless activity done due to habit. There may be underlying health concerns that could be the reason for excessive licking.
A change in the environment, introducing a new person or animal or unfamiliar surroundings may cause anxiety-induced licking as a coping mechanism. Try introducing changes slowly at a pace your dog is comfortable with, giving it plenty of time to adapt.
An injury that you may not have spotted yet may be causing your dog distress. To relieve pain, your dog may be excessively licking its wounds or injury site. It may also appear more clingy as it may be asking for attention to take care of the situation and ease its pain.
Pains or Discomfort
A senior dog or pregnant dog may suddenly give extra licks to you to draw attention to internal changes that may be causing discomfort to them. This is also applicable to any dog undergoing internal pain.
It may not be easy to pinpoint the cause behind over licking by yourself, so it is advised to take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any of these possibilities.
If your dog is suffering from issues in the digestive tract, it may be in extreme internal pain. You may find it difficult to pinpoint the cause for this.
Although licking other surfaces apart from itself does not always point to a gastrointestinal problem, it is best to get checked to prevent the problem from progressing.
Why are Dog Licks a Problem?
Now that the cause for licking has been traced back to inherent nurture, why is licking an issue? Most of the problems with entertaining licking stem from licks being unsanitary to other people.
Licking a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and pests and picking up dirt is the primary cause for concern. As long as your dog licks itself, it is not a problem.
However, once it begins to use its tongue to lick you, you may find it gross as it is likely to spread the germs and cause illness amongst all the residents in the house.
Invasion of Personal Space
Dogs do not understand the concept of personal space and are usually quick to adapt to new people and animals. This means they try to appear friendly by licking, which everyone may not appreciate.
Supervision while letting your dog run outdoors is extremely important, especially when your dog has a tendency to lick others. While some may welcome it, some may be aggressive and dislike the move, possibly resulting in a fight.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking Me?
Getting your dog to stop licking you is a matter of patience. With the right training practised consistently, you can get a puppy or a dog to stop licking you in a short period.
Step 1: Ignore the Lick
The first response after receiving licks from a dog is either getting annoyed or enjoying it. Avoid letting either emotion show. Keep your face as emotionless as possible and simply move away.
Your dog will try to get your attention again by barking or trying to mount up but do not engage in either activity. Keep yourself busy with something else.
Step 2: Redirect its Energy
After getting a clean sheet from your vet, licking can be traced back to behavioural issues that can only be corrected through retraining.
For this, after you move away, you may notice your dog following you around. Use this chance to redirect its energy to other engaging activities.
Chew toys are a handy tool to train your dog and keep it engaged. This will give it something to keep it busy and rechannel its energy.
Toys like a stuffed kong, jigsaw puzzles, etc., are great ways to entertain your dog and keep its mind off of licking you.
Providing mental stimulation may not work for every dog, but physical stimulation is sure to show an effect on most dogs. Time your daily physical activity with your dog such that you can ward off its licking behaviour.
Ensure that the time outdoors is spent tiring out your dog so that it doesn’t have the energy to bother you by licking you after coming home.
Give commands for tricks right when you see your dog coming to lick you. This will catch it off guard and help in redirecting its focus. Teaching your dog new tricks as a follow-up can also help.
Step 3: Reward Good Behavior
It is a must to indicate the desired behaviour to help your dog identify and repeat. Treats may not be the best option for this task. Instead, reward your dog with heaps of praise to ensure continued behaviour.
Step 4: Consistency is Key
Do not confuse your dog by accepting licking occasionally and using the tips mentioned above at other times. Keep your boundary clearly defined to help your dog adapt to it and habituate itself to ensure it stops licking.
Step 5: Keep Yourself Clean
Your natural body odour could be the reason causing your dog to lick you. Make sure you take regular showers to keep your body’s neutral smell, especially after physical activity. Dogs only lick human skin due to the saline taste and smell of sweat. Keeping yourself odour free will help in eliminating the cause.
Step 6: Do Not Use Negative Reinforcement
Using punishments to train your dog has never been proven to work, and it applies to this case as well. Express disapproval with a stern no.
Do not use any kind of punishment to make your dog realize the problem. This does not help resolve the issue of licking and can only cause behavioural issues in your beloved dog.
Alternate Option: Hire a Pet Trainer
Suppose it seems too difficult of a task for you to handle by yourself or after experiencing failure.
In that case, you can use the help of a professional animal behaviourist or dog trainer to train your dog for you.
All you need to do is consistently reinforce their habits to ensure that your dog gets habituated to them.
How do I get my dog to stop licking me may seem like a difficult issue to resolve as it is an instinct; however, using simple retraining practices can easily solve the problem.